Georgia 23, Florida 20: Bulldogs Escape

USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't pretty and it took forever, but Georgia won its third consecutive Cocktail Party.

In a marathon game stalled by numerous penalties, reviews, and timeouts, Georgia narrowly held on to defeat Florida 23-20.

At the beginning, it looked like Georgia might win the game in a blowout. The Bulldogs' first two drives went for a combined 152 yards on ten combined plays for a pair of touchdowns. Todd Gurley did most of the work on the drive, looking completely healed from his high ankle sprain, with 44 yards and a TD run on the first and a 73-yard TD catch on the second. That work actually tired out Gurley, who hadn't played in a while thanks to that injury. He looked tired and even went into the locker room briefly before coming back out. Gurley never was quite the same after, and UGA wouldn't score another touchdown the rest of the way.

Florida had some chances early, but missed a field goal and turned it over on downs in the first half. The latter came with about a minute to go in the half, and Georgia used the field position gain to get a quick field goal and go up 23-3 at the half. Florida swung the momentum when Georgia's Arthur Lynch dropped a swing pass that turned out to be a lateral. Leon Orr picked it up and returned it to the UGA 14. Two plays later, Florida scored. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Florida picked up another touchdown and got the two-point conversion to cut the margin to 23-20.

Georgia would turn it over on downs on the subsequent possession, setting up the Gators at the Georgia 39. Or, it would have, except Florida's Neiron Ball foolishly took his helmet off after the play to celebrate, knocking the team back 15 yards. A huge sack six plays into the drive backed Florida up too far for a field goal, forcing a punt. Georgia took over with 8:17 to go, and Aaron Murray and Gurley gutted out a drive that would eat up the rest of the clock. Florida looked like it had stopped UGA on third down with just over a minute to go to force a fourth down attempt or a field goal, but UF's Darious Cummings got called for a blatantly obvious hands to the face personal foul that allowed Murray to kneel out the clock.

For Georgia, it was a statement win to take its third straight in the series and stay in the SEC East race. Florida came up short at the end, but it was still a big game for the Gators. They could have given up down 20 at the half, but they kept fighting and nearly pulled off the upset. The spotlight now turns to Columbia, Missouri, where Tennessee could seriously put UGA back in the division race in a big way.

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